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Dangers lurk throughout social media: Norton

Company says that cyber-criminals are targeting all aspects of social networking sites

Dangers lurk throughout social media: Norton
Norton has warned that social networking is one of the top five cyber-threats facing Middle East customers for 2011.

Norton has warned the region's social media users that dangers lurk behind every part of social networking, from updating status, adding new photos or reading a comment from a friend.

The company has identified social media identity theft as one of the top five cyber-threats facing Middle East consumers in 2011 as businesses and consumers expand their online social presence.

"At Symantec, we recognise the growing power and utility of social media such as Facebook and others for both personal and business use but the risks associated with careless participation can be potentially devastating. Within Symantec we managed to stop a remarkable 3.2 billion threats in 2010 but we couldn't achieve this without customers actively taking action to protect themselves," said Tamim Taufiq, head of consumer sales for MENA.

Norton warns of three major tactics of online phishing and cyber-crime scams. According to the company, users must be wary of unusual messages or requests from online friends because URLs containing malicious code have become one of the key ways cybercriminals access a user's data. Norton warns that many requests for  money or links to video are fraudulent messages, Even if a user does not click on anything, simply visiting a site may be enough to infect a computer with malware.

Norton also warns against giving away your location on social media through geo-location software. No matter how strong your privacy settings, there is still a chance that thieves can see when you are not at home or are going away on vacation and can break into your home.

Social networks are now being bombarded with spam, according to Norton. Users are creating fake events to bombard those who join with spam messages.

"We want to encourage consumers within the GCC to take easy-to-follow steps to enable us to sidestep fraud, identity theft, malware and computer viruses. While some of the challenges that social media, networking and collaboration sites present are more complex, they are ultimately no different than any other communication channel in that we must always protect our private information regardless of the medium in which we are communicating," said Taufiq.

Norton has urged social media users to be aware of the online risks at all times and to behave with caution. The company says that users must keep their passwords strong by using letter, numbers and characters. Norton also urges users to read the privacy guidelines and rules published no websites.

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